A three-goal second period propelled the Hershey Bears to a 4-1 road win over the Hartford Wolf Pack Saturday, as they swept their back-to-back series and moved closer to another 40 win season for coach Spencer Carberry.
Defenseman Bobby Nardella had three assists and Vitek Vanecek had another outstanding night in goal, stopping 26 of 27 shots for his second consecutive win over Hartford.
It was another scoreless opening period before the Bears scored three times in the first 10 minutes in the second frame.
Matt Moulson started the scoring just 52 seconds into the period when Brian Pinho threw a shot on goal from the right wing. Wolf Pack goalie Jean-Francois Berube dropped the rebound in the crease and Moulson sent the loose biscuit home for his team-leading 21st goal of the season.
At 3:48, with Hershey on a power play, the Bears made it a 2-0 tilt in less than 20 seconds when Philippe Maillet redirected a perfect feed from Daniel Sprong into the twine.
Another score at 9:05 was set up by Nardella for Brian Pinho’s 20th goal of the season. That ended the night for Berube who was replaced by Adam Huska who stopped all 14 shots faced in the remainder of regulation.
Hartford finally ended Vanecek’s back-to-back shutout bid when Nick Jones scored at 12:03 to finally get the Wolf Pack on the board. With time running out Hartford pulled Huska for the extra attacker, but Tyler Lewington scored into the empty net at 19:59 for the 4-1 final.
Shot totals finished 33-27 in favor of Hershey. The Bears finished 1-for-4 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill.
Hershey’s record improved to 37-18-3-3 to increase its point total to 80. Providence, on a 10-0 winning streak, remains two points behind the Bears in the Atlantic Division race and Hartford is five points back in third place.
The Bears return to action and conclude three games in three days Sunday afternoon against the Providence Bruins with a 3 p.m. start at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
With Friday’s 1-0 victory, the trend of close games in the season series between Hershey and Hartford continued. The previous five games in the season series were all decided by just one goal, with Hershey now 4-2-0-0 for the season series. Saturday’s victory means Hershey is now to 10-3-1-1 at the XL Center over the past five seasons.
Philippe Maillet played in his 200th American Hockey League game. The Quebec native leads Hershey in scoring this season with 43 points (16 goals, 27 assists). He’s spent his entire pro career in the AHL, with Ontario and Hershey, compiling 137 points (52 goals, 85 assists) in 200 contests.
Hershey coach Spencer Carberry needs three wins to become the fifth Hershey coach to win 40-plus games in back-to-back seasons. John Paddock had a record-setting four seasons from 1985-86 to 1988-89. Frank Mathers (2), Bruce Boudreau (2) and Troy Mann (3) are the other three.